United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Overturns the Sentence of Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor SSgt Eddy Soto (2014)

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.19.43 AM

SSgt Eddy Soto, US Air Force

“Soto faced as much as life without parole for the rape, one of six charges and eight specifications of misconduct.” -My SA

SSgt Eddy Soto was a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Soto was one of the 35 instructors courts martialed in what is referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. SSgt Soto was accused of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and the rape of one airman whom it appeared he had a relationship with. Investigators learned of the relationship Soto had with the airman who accused him of rape as part of a widespread probe into MTI misconduct. Soto faced life without parole but prosecutors asked for 12-15 years. Soto pleaded guilty to five charges and admitted that he had unprofessional relationships with a trainee and a civilian who had come to the base to see her husband graduate from basic training. He also admitted to adultery charges but he denied the rape accusation. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in March 2013. After his confinement ended, he would be dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Soto was the second instructor convicted of rape in the scandal. SSgt Luis Walker was the first conviction and he received 20 years for the rape of one airman and sexual assault of several others.

In an exceptional ruling by the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals, Soto’s conviction for rape was overturned in Sept 2014. The military appeals court ruled the evidence was “factually insufficient” to support the conviction. In other words, there wasn’t enough evidence to find him guilty in the first place. The appeals court upheld the lesser charges of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. The judge ruled the four year sentence and dishonorable discharge should be set aside and the case was referred back to the convening authority who had the authority to hold a new sentencing hearing. Soto remained jailed at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California while the government decided whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider their ruling. SSgt Eddy Soto served over a year and a half for a rape conviction that lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Media reports stated Soto would be re-sentenced by a lower court for unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. Further on-line research did not find evidence of the final disposition of SSgt Soto’s case. We do not know if he was re-sentenced, released from prison and when, or if he was discharged from the military.

The findings of guilty for Charge III, Specification 1 are set aside and dismissed. The remaining findings of guilty are affirmed. The sentence is set aside. The record of trial is returned to The Judge Advocate General for remand to an appropriate convening authority who may order a rehearing to determine an appropriate sentence for the affirmed findings of guilty. If the convening authority determines that a rehearing on the sentence is impracticable, the convening authority may approve a sentence of “no punishment” or dismiss the remaining charges and specifications. –USAF Court of Criminal Appeals

Related Links:
General admits failure in Lackland sex scandal; 32 alleged culprits
Cross-Cultural Expert Brought In For Lackland Court-Martial
Lackland trainer handed 4 years in rape
Lackland sergeant found guilty in rape case
Air Force instructor gets 4 years for raping trainee
Air Force trainer convicted of raping ex-trainee
Air Force trainer found guilty of raping cadet in Lackland base abuse scandal
US v. SSgt EDDY C. SOTO, US Air Force, ACM 38422, 16 September 2014
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (San Antonio Express)
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (Stars & Stripes)
Air Force appeals court tosses MTI rape conviction
Military overturns Lackland Air Force Base rape conviction
SSgt Eddy Soto Court-Martial Conviction for Rape Set Aside by Air Force Appellate Court
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal

Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor, SSgt Craig LeBlanc, Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years in Prison for Unprofessional Relationships, Adultery

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 8.54.54 PM

SSgt Craig LeBlanc, US Air Force

SSgt Craig LeBlanc was a Basic Military Training Instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He is also one of the 35 instructors courts martialed after a base-wide investigation into sexual abuse claims referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. He was accused of having inappropriate relationships with recruits, adultery, and sexual assault. He was found not guilty of sexual assault. Nonetheless, SSgt LeBlanc was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in February 2013. Although the actions for which he was found guilty were unprofessional and in fact Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) infractions, they were not criminal in nature yet he got prison time for consensual sex and adultery, a law that doesn’t exist in the civilian world. The Air Force gave SSgt LeBlanc the fourth longest prison sentence. SSgt Eddy Soto was sentenced to four years for the rape of a trainee but a year and a half later, the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals overturned the conviction and set aside the original prison sentence. The rape charge lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. SSgt Luis Walker and MSgt Michael Silva were both sentenced to twenty years for rape and sexual assault convictions. SSgt LeBlanc attempted to appeal his sentence but the military appeals court denied it.

“The dismissal of these two specifications does not dramatically change the penalty landscape; in fact, only the maximum confinement authorized would change. Without the convictions on these two specifications, the confinement exposure is reduced from 22 years and 1 month to 18 years and 1 month. The appellant was sentenced to confinement for 30 months. Having considered the totality of the circumstances, we would reassess the appellant’s sentence to the same sentence approved by the convening authority.” -USAF Court of Criminal Appeals (March 2015)

Related Links:
Another Lackland trainer referred to court-martial
Former Military Instructor’s Court-Martial Set
Court-Martial Begins for Lackland Air Force Instructor
Lackland trainer’s bragging is cited
Lackland trainer bragged of sex, witnesses say
Lackland court-martial trial continues
Lackland trainer jailed after release
Lackland trainer pleads guilty on two charges
LeBlanc guilty of all but one charge
LeBlanc Acquitted Of Sexual Assault, Sentenced For Other Charges
Lackland trainer gets prison for sexual misconduct
US v. SSgt CRAIG A. LEBLANC, US Air Force, ACM 38396, M.J., 26 March 2015
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal

Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor, SSgt Kwinton Estacio, Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for an Unprofessional Relationship & Obstruction of Justice

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 4.01.44 PM

SSgt Kwinton Estacio, US Air Force

“If Estacio had been convicted of sexual assault or wrongful sexual contact, the Air Force would have been required to notify state officials so he could be placed on a sex-offender registry, said Lt. Col. Mark Hoover, an Air Force training command attorney.” -My SA

SSgt Kwinton Estacio was a basic military training instructor as Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He was one of the 35 instructors courts martialed in what is referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. SSgt Estacio was accused of a sexual assault and wrongful sexual contact with a trainee. The judge found him not guilty of sexual assault as there was not enough evidence to support the charge. A sexual assault conviction carried a maximum sentence of thirty years. A jury found him not guilty of wrongful sexual contact. Sexual assault and wrongful sexual contact indictments could have landed him on the sex offender registry. SSgt Estacio pleaded guilty to an unprofessional relationship, disobeying a direct order, and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to one year in prison and received a bad conduct discharge. He appealed his sentence but the appeal was denied. Although the actions for which he was found guilty were unprofessional and in fact UCMJ infractions, they were not criminal in nature yet he was sentenced to 1 year in prison. SSgt Estacio had the sixth longest prison sentence in the Lackland scandal. SrA Christopher Oliver had the fifth longest sentence at 2 years for unprofessional relationships and adultery. SSgt Craig LeBlanc had the fourth longest sentence at 2 1/2 years for unprofessional relationships & adultery. SSgt Eddy Soto had the third longest sentence at 4 years for rape but Soto’s conviction was later overturned by the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals. The rape charge lacked sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. SSgt Luis Walker and MSgt Michael Silva both received 20 year sentences for rape and sexual assault.

Air Force trainer pleads guilty in sex scandal
Lackland training instructor pleads not guilty to sexual assault charge
Air Force instructor in Texas acquitted on sex charge
Air Force trainer acquitted in sexual assault at Texas’ Lackland
Former Lackland trainer receives 1-year sentence
Air Force trainer is spared a 30-year penalty
Air Force boot-camp instructor sentenced to prison in sex scandal
US v. SSgt KWINTON K. ESTACIO, US Air Force, ACM 38256, 11 June 2014
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal